How Transformative is Community Music?

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


Transformation has become a buzzword in the discourse of community musicians, music educators and policymakers, describing the effects that engaging in music-making may have for participants. One need only look towards the likes of the global El Sistema projects, Music Action International, and the work of National Portfolio organisations and funding bodies in the U.K to see the multiple ways that this concept is being employed. Although transformation has become a common facet in the language of community musicians and music educators, there has been little theoretical examination into what this concept means to musicians and the participants they are working alongside.

Taking this idea forward, this presentation uses three ethnographic case studies examining music projects working with young people living with special educational needs, adults living with mental health challenges and children in the care system to explore the concept of transformation.

Guiding this research are two primary questions;

1) How do community musicians support and employ the concept of transformation within their practice?

2) To what extent does a music project bring about a sense transformation for participants and musicians, and what are the implications of doing so?

Using a mixed methodological approach, including participatory observations, focus groups and one-to-one interviews, I explore how and why community musicians and music educators are employing the notion of transformation within their practices and the impacts that this concept offers both participants and musicians.

It is hoped that this presentation will provoke further discussions on our use of language within the fields of music education and community music and how this may impact how we describe or enact parts of our practice.
Period25 Jul 2022
Event titleInternational Society for Music Education World Conference
Event typeConference